United Local’s new team aims at increasing student, staff safety

HANOVERTON – The United Local School administration last week presented its new safety team aimed at increasing student and staff safety at the K-12 campus.

Superintendent Steve Viscounte hosted a public forum Tuesday night to share ideas and hear public comments regarding safety measures at the campus. Although it was poorly attended, the forum offered information that is important for parents and community members to know, he said, adding that he hopes to hold a forum each year.

Viscounte said in light of recent shootings and school violence, the administration formed the team to evaluate policies and procedures, evacuation plans in the case of an armed intruder and safety loose ends at the campus. He said the goal of the team is to minimize casualties during emergencies, recognizing that in extreme situations not all students will be safe and safety service agencies will have an approximate 15-minute response time.

“Attacks are not new, but they are becoming more frequent,” he said. “We need to make sure we have the procedures in place that can save as many as possible.”

Viscounte said the team is looking at a Recognize Assess Respond approach- recognizing the situation, assessing what’s going on and responding appropriately. A key message to students is get away as quickly as possible, he said, so that students are not waiting around to be victims. Safe locations are still being discussed, he said.

Currently the team is considering communications, the ability to leave the campus during a crisis and accessibility to the campus before, during and after school hours.

Viscounte said communication from inside a locked down classroom with the outside is key, particularly with emergency personnel, other staff/students and the community. He also noted that there are currently no deterrents after hours to prevent people from walking throughout the campus. He said security gates are a possibility.

High School Principal Bill Young said that entrance doors are locked during school hours, visitors must sign in at the main office, visitors must wear badges, staff wear identification badges and all classroom doors are kept locked in preparation for a lock down. He also said that the school holds lock down and relocation drills in addition to those for fire and tornado.

Elementary Principal Tina Hughes said that staff members are reminding students not to open the door for anyone. She also said that visitors are required to sign in at the elementary entrance and to wear yellow lanyards that are easily identifiable by the students.

“The measures can create a nuisance, but it’s necessary to increase safety,” Young said.

Viscounte encouraged community members to e-mail or call team members to share ideas about school safety.

Team members include Viscounte (steve.viscounte@united.k12.oh.us), Young (william.young@united.k12.oh.us) and Hughes (christina.hughes@united.k12.oh.us), High School Assistant Principal Frank Baker (frank.baker@united.k12.oh.us), Elementary Assistant Principal Ed Ridgeway (ed.ridgeway@united.k12.oh.us), Special Education Director Marlene Ravelli (marlene.ravelli@united.k12.oh.us), Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Tom Clemens (tom.clemens@united.k12.oh.us), Transportation Supvisor Jim Reinsel (jim.reinsel@united.k12.oh.us), Tech Director Dennis Klaustermeyer (dennis.klaustermeyer@united.k12.oh.us), and certified teachers Laurie Raymond (lorraine.raymond@united.k12.oh.us) and Jason Swiger (jason.swiger@united.k12.oh.us). School Nurse Sue Laughlin (susan.laughlin@united.k12.oh.us) will also be added soon.